Museo: quale futuro?

Concrete Hopes

Berlin’s search for a kunsthalle

In my mind 2010 will remain linked to the last hurrah of the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin (tkb), which closed its doors at the end of August. The final group exhibition, curated by John Bock and titled ‘FischGrätenMelkStand’ (FishBoneMilkingStand), comprised a cow-milking system with a herringbone-like network of tubes running from each stall to a central vat and brought together 63 artists, including architects, filmmakers, designers and even a few ghosts.
Despite his nod to cows and fish, Bock treated tkb’s empty interior like a gopher treats a barren field: he invaded the homogeneous white-cube space with a maze of passages and cubbyholes. Held together by massive scaffolding, the structure was 11 metres tall, with four floors and 600 m2 of exhibition space – not including a hole dug in the ground by artist Adrian Lohmüller, a balcony jutting out on one side of the building and a viewing-pad sprouting out from the roof. Inside the favela-like structure it was hard to know where the curating ended and the art works began: Saul Fletcher’s photographs were hung on tyres, Matthew Hale’s collages on stuffed socks.
Bock’s makeshift approach was a fitting finale for the temporary space, closing, as planned, after a two-year run. He had already been included in the group exhibition ‘36 x 27 x 10’, organized by Coco Kühn and Constanze Kleiner, in the Palast der Republik in December 2005, before that building was demolished. Kühn and Kleiner went on to orchestrate a kunsthalle proposal, which won a competition organized by the Berlin senate in December 2007, as well as extra cash (although the lion’s share came from patron Dieter Rosenkranz). Yet the tkb’s advisory board got off on the wrong foot by presenting only solo shows that failed to capture the spirit of the expanding Berlin art scene. After the board’s resignation in February 2009 things got better, with subsequent group exhibitions curated by Berlin-based artists.
tkb is not the city’s first kunsthalle. The municipal Staatliche Kunsthalle on the Budapester Strasse in the former West Berlin was closed down by personal–political clashes in 1993. init Kunsthalle was run by gallerists Christian Nagel and Alexander Schröder and curator Karola Grässlin from 1998 to 2000 in an old supermarket on Chausseestrasse in Mitte. Many proposed sites have come and gone, from a flower market to a municipal pool. tkb – like the Palast der Republik that once stood a few hundred metres away – will be torn down to make way for a reconstructed replica of Prussia’s old Berlin City Palace (owing to budget cuts, the start of construction has been delayed until at least 2014).
Given the inability of buildings to persist on this particular site, and Berlin’s problem of finding a permanent home for a kunsthalle, I was struck by Bock’s focus on the search for home and origins. Yet he replaced the domicile with the squat, and historical origins with mythical tropes: not Prussian heritage but Africa (Christoph Schlingensief’s opera village in Burkina Faso), ghosts (a ‘para’-normal cabinet about spirits of the dead) and original film memorabilia (a cigarette with traces of actress Jane Russell’s lipstick). There were nomadic living spaces, from Björn Braun’s bird’s nest in a rucksack to a trailer home with works by Vinyl Terror & Horror. Matthew Burbidge seemed to have lived for weeks in the building’s technical room, redubbed ‘Backstage’ and filled with endless artefacts: drawings, collages, snack foods, taxi receipts.
‘Mutter Tod mit Pepperoni’ (Mother Death with Pepperoni) honoured every artist’s beautiful failures with a Martin Kippenberger ceramic (a spaghetti bowl with a hole in it), his portrait by Heimo Zobernig and almost 200 pepperoni pizzas, burnt just enough to rest
vertically on shelves, like poorly produced statues of a single saint. Pizzas have never made me think of halos before, or of Kippenberger’s penchant for errors and artist’s assistants, yet it was easy to imagine one of Bock’s assistants telling the chef, after a few false starts: ‘You must burn these pizzas better.’
This call to defeat – like Samuel Beckett’s ‘Fail again. Fail better’ – could describe the history of Berlin’s search for a kunsthalle. And, of course, the future holds another one. Just as hope and funding were evaporating, the mayor, Klaus Wowereit, revived the project in October. Curators Angelique Campens, Magdalena Magiera, Jakob Schillinger and Scott Weaver will select Berlin-based artists for a group show slated for this coming summer, while the advisory board of Klaus Biesenbach, Christine Macel and Hans Ulrich Obrist will oversee larger elements, such as choosing an architect to build a space, perhaps at Humboldt port (an empty site right next to the Hauptbahnhof, and across from the Hamburger Bahnhof museum).
This story reflects not only Berlin but also the erosion of public space and community spirit the world over. Art used to revive old factories; nowadays it’s public facilities such as municipal swimming-pools. Private collectors who used to back museums and kunsthalles now open their own institutions, like private collector Thomas Olbricht’s Berlin space, aptly titled ‘me’. Perhaps help will come from the many countries who support their artists in Berlin but do not dare open institutions. A foreign-financed Berlin Kunsthalle would be a revolution. The latest attempt may fail again. But in the light of the city’s wealth of artists, every failure does get better.

Jen Allen

Quale Museo?

Viktor Misiano

Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci.

– Non ci sono ricette speciali per i Musei di Arte Contemporanea.

Ogni Museo ha una sua specificità.

Io ho lavorato per dieci anni al Museo Puskin. Quando è terminata questa fase, il giorno dopo sono partito per Prato. Da quel giorno li la mia carriera è di curatore e di critico indipendente. Dirigo una ricvista artistica a Mosca : la “Moscow Art Magazine”.

Recentemente sono stato intervistato da una giornalista di un canale culturale della televisione Russa – che svolgeva una inchiesta sull’ Arte Contemporanea.

Naturalmente si trattava di una inchiesta sui Musei che ospitano Arte contemporanea.

Al che le ho domandato – da parte mia, quali erano e che risposte avevavano dato gli altri intervistati al medesimo quesito –

– Innanzitutto – gli venne risposto, per fare un grande museo di arte contemporanea a Mosca ci vuole un grande architetto –

Che deve realizzare un progetto molto eccentrico e molto bello.

E questo edificio, con queste caratteristiche deve avere oltre agli spazi per il museo, per grandi mostre internazionali – deve avere come minimo due ristoranti, un parcheggio sotteraneo – deve organizzare ogni fine settimana degli incontri ( intrattenimento con discoteca) –

e per il giorno… concedere ai propri clienti dei locali per le saune.

Naturalmente questa è una descrizione abbastanza grottesca di un Museo di arte contemporanea. Ed è quello che provai a dire alla mia intervistatrice.

E questi : “Forse che lei ha un altro progetto ” mi rispose.

Dunque esiste evidentemente un ideale di Museo per l’arte Contemporanea.

Ed il riferimento corre veloce al più famoso dei Musei, il Guggenheim – Modello di Museo proposto da Thomas Krens – un museo Globale, prodotto della rivoluzione neo-liberal, un museo che deve attrarre, essere mediatico, un museo che deve eliminare qualsiasi tema e sottofondo intellettuale, un museo cher deve realizzare delle mostre impressionanti invitando design, grandi stars – Un museo in grado di ospitare Armani o una famosa collezzione di biciclette – un Museo molto dinamico, e coerente con i flussi globali del capitale, che utilizza i metodi del grande business, in grado di muoversi in questa nuova epoca di migrazioni e transazioni. Infatti modello del Guggenheim è il sistema del franchising, creare sempre nuove sedi nelle diverse città del mondo.

(Una sede in preparazione era quella di Pietroburgo, che per nostra fortuna non è andata avanti)

Per leggere l’intero intervento:

Interventions and participation in curating art collectionMarjatta Hölz Interview with Stella Rollig

Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, January 20, 2011

The interview consists of two main parts: the first is on the significance of the museum

collection and insertions of contemporary artworks in exhibitions of historical art

collections, as well as participatory practices in curating. The second part is about

collection management; restitutions, and decision making about acquisitions and removing

works (to sharpen the profile of a collection).

The museum collection and the audience

MH: Many museums nowadays present their collection more often instead of showing big

monographic or thematic exhibitions. Is exhibiting collections a makeshift solution in

times of tight budgets and decreasing blockbuster exhibitions, or is there more appreciation

and awareness of the collection’s own value?

SR: As it is so often, I think it is a mixture. The collection is the core of any museum;

that is what museums are invented for, to collect and to present their holdings. As we

all know, this has changed during the last decades, and now we realize a certain swingback,

although I am still a bit suspicious if it will become really successful and,

foremost, if it will be appreciated by the visitors. The audience has been trained by the

whole system and by art managers themselves to eagerly wait for the next temporary

exhibit with an even bigger name each time, and museum programmes, marketing and public

relations are all focused on that.

In a way, we have to reprogramme and to re-educate our audience, and to convince them of

the value and the importance of the collection. Of course, this is easier when you have

a collection full of so-called masterpieces, very very well known artists. But I think it

is as least as rewarding and exciting to work with everything a specific collection

has to offer, its characteristics, and most collections in middle-range museums hold some

outstanding or first class pieces. Yet I have to add that I always use these terms of

classification reluctantly, because I am aware that they are constructed, they are linked

to certain market interests. But let us work with them for a while because they are

common knowledge; so you have a couple of masterpieces and second range goods.

MH: Could you imagine an equality of ‘High & Low’? That the masterpieces would be combined

as a matter of course with trivial works of less quality, with more emphasis on

the content?

SR: Absolutely. This is one motive behind our and my personal work as an art mediator,

even art educator in a wider sense, that I would like to stimulate the ability, the curiosity

and readiness of the audience to decide for themselves what they like about a

specific work of art, what it means for them, independently from its market value. So we

had discussions in our team even recently about the fact that tourists or visitors

who come once a year they tend to expect masterpieces when they visit the museum. It was

brought up again by colleagues of mine – should we have one specific gallery with the

masterpieces? We discussed this and I convinced them not to go for this, because then you

would reaffirm this questionable notion of a masterpiece. I acknowledge the expectations

of an audience, and I don’t want to act against my own visitors or, fashionably called:

“clients” – but we should rather keep in mind to include in every presentation this handful

of works that is being expected by the audience at the Lentos Museum, but not declared

in a specific place as the masterpieces, while in the other galleries you find the


MH: In the press release for May I Show You Your Collection? (2007) you said that

“concentration on consistency is needed as a backlash to the effects of entertainment

business,” that “museums have to mediate options for orientation and cultural competences”

and that “the collection of the museum is the most important benchmark of this

work.” How has the audience behaviour and structure developed during the last years, concerning

the exhibitions from the collection of the Lentos Museum?

SR: I think the concept of May I Show You Your Collection? is still valid, to raise an

awareness in the audience that since this is a Museum by the City of Linz, every person

living here is one of the owners of this collection.

I couldn’t say that the behaviour of the audience has changed during the last couple

of years. I am afraid that the collection is still regarded less attractive and there

is too little stimulus to go to the museum to see it. With a presentation of the collection

you rarely get press coverage by the national or even international media, if you

are not the Museum of Modern Art. But here in Upper Austria and Linz the leading newspapers

wrote on our latest presentation of the collection: “this is a Must See Show.”

I am telling that because in the end the visitor figures were still disappointing. It is

still very much the mentality of the audience: we have to wait until the next big

temporary show.

The chronological display. For education or research?

MH: In many museums, the thematic exhibition of a collection has replaced the chronological

display. By contrast, The collection 1900-1960 — apart from the interventions —

is still arranged chronologically, on the whole (figs. 1-4). Generally speaking, do

you think that the academic display with art historical epochs and styles is going to be

obsolete, or do we always need chronological displays as an educational canon which,

in museums with comprehensive collections and permanent displays still are helpful for


SR: Since I have been working here, which is almost seven years now, we have had very

different models of presenting our collection. But, as you say, the current exhibition is

chronological. This has been a very profound decision, after many discussions. It is very

communicative, approachable, and smoother for the audience. I think that the chronological

order is less important because of its educational aspect but because it is deeply

rooted and internalized in each individual experience, the passing of time, of our life,

memory going back for a couple of years.

In one and the same decade very different artistic attitudes and styles have been developed.

In contrast, when you learn art history you link the –isms to certain time periods.

In fact there have always been other artistic movements at the same time. This can also

be seen very well in a chronological order.

Virtual Museums

MARCH 08, 2011by Emily Magnuson

 André Malraux selects photographs for La Musée imaginaire (The Imaginary Museum, 1947)

Online institutions: André Malraux and Google’s Art Project

It’s been 60 years since André Malraux opened the doors to his musée imaginare, claiming that the history of art had shifted from the hallowed halls of the classical museum to the more conceptual realm of ‘that which can be photographed’. Last month, however, it seems that his conceit has found a foothold in reality – or in virtual reality, at least. In early February the ever-expanding Google empire took over a new territory with the launch of their Art Project. In doing so, the corporation appears to have re-ignited a conversation begun in 1947 by the French statesman’s seminal essay on the ‘Museum without Walls’. In essence, Malraux has been Googled.

In collaboration with 17 of the world’s top museums (among them Tate Britain, the Uffizi, the Met, MoMA and the Reina Sofía), Art Project allows anyone with access to the world wide web to wander ‘street view’-style around the museum and galleries’ collections. One thousand and sixty-one works are available and, of these, there are 17 special gigapixel masterpieces, one selected by each museum to offer the opportunity to view a canonical work more intimately than would be possible in real life. This roster of art-history all-stars includes few surprises – Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Whistler and others are heralded as the main attraction of your virtual visit.


A reflection of Google’s camera in a mirror at the Palace of Versailles

While the project, despite its occasional technical difficulties, appears to be a very good thing, it still begs a larger question that was introduced by Malraux: does the advent, and now exploitation, of the reproducible image make our ability to apprehend art any more, or less, real? What do we really gain or lose in this virtual reality?


Detail from Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (from the Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

Written in the decade following Walter Benjamin’s influential 1939 ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, Malraux’s essay considers how the invention of mechanical reproduction – and specifically photography – signalled a new manner in which art is experienced. He proposed a new kind of institution – which he called a supermuseum – whose collection encompassed any kind of work of art that could be photographed: ‘In our Museum without Walls, picture, fresco, miniature, and stained-glass window seem one and the same family. For all alike-miniatures, frescoes, stained glass, tapestries, Scynthian plagues, pictures, Greek vase paintings, “details” and even statuary have become “colour-plates”.’ According to Malraux, the Museum without Walls was an imaginary architecture built on the capabilities and proliferation of photographic reproduction. Photography had released the art object from its objecthood and, perhaps most significantly, from its ritual. For Benjamin, this advance undermined the ‘aura’ of the unique work of art, but for Malraux it inaugurated a new era of art appreciation – the art book standing as example for all that the work of art stood to gain from the advent of the reproducible image in its ability to carry the ‘revelation of the world of art’ beyond the physical walls of ‘real’ institutions.


Detail from Manet’s In the Conservatory (from the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

Yet there is something different happening for the work of art in this age of digital reproduction which appears to reinforce the historical canon of art history, whereas the mechanical world that Malraux imagined seemed to level it. For Malraux, mechanical reproduction presented a sort of universal critical function, where all works – regardless of size, context or medium – could be compiled and examined in order to expose a greater genius behind the style of a work of art and of a period of history. In the Museum without Walls, the mass of works presented was seen to free us from the necessity of a tentative approach to the past by ‘revealing’ a style in its entirety, by opening up the question ‘What is a masterpiece?’ through looking at a work not so much as a comparison with its rivals as with ‘reference’ to the ‘family’ of images to which it belongs.


Detail from Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (from the Museum of Modern Art, New York)

And yet now, 60 years later, we seem to have turned back the clock on this idea of the reproduction as a means of critical revaluation and as equalizer – not necessarily for the viewers of works, but for the work of art itself. The very nature of Google’s approach to digital reproduction, in explicitly varying the levels of detail between different works, re-invigorates the canon we’ve sought to challenge in the last century. Far from being re-examined or challenged, the historical heroes of art history are, literally, clearer to us in this digital architecture. No ‘real’ museum would ever choose a presentation which so adamantly reiterates faded ideas of the genius and the definition of the masterpiece without a critical framework. Such issues are happily forgotten when confronted with Google’s mantra of access to all, but it is worth questioning whether the age of digital reproduction – and its ability to stratify our vision of art – is really doing us, and the museum, any favours.


Detail from Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (from The National Gallery, London)

The public, albeit larger, is no longer challenged to re-think what, and why, as they did in Malraux’s fantasy. They just want to look, and in this way we appear to be losing traction in the evolution of the ‘museum’ and its critical place in shaping our apprehension of art, imaginary or otherwise.

Sessanta musei in cerca di uno scopo

Un’analisi delle mission di gestione dei musei d’arte degli Stati Uniti produce risultati sorprendenti

di András Szántó

MoMA, New York

Miami. Le parole più utilizzate nelle mission di 60 musei. La dimensione della parola corrisponde alla frequenza del loro uso. In breve: cos’hanno in comune i seguenti termini? Bellezza. Valori. Discussione. Contemplazione. La risposta è: nessuno di loro figura in primo piano tra gli imperativi istituzionali dei musei d’arte degli Stati Uniti, almeno alla luce delle loro mission. Altre parole mancanti in 59 delle 60 mission: sostenitore, sviluppo, ambizione, etica, intelligenza strategica, video.

Perché perder tempo contando le parole degli statuti? L’ispirazione per l’esercizio è data da una conversazione che avrà luogo domani mattina ad Art Basel sull’evoluzione delle mission dei musei. A esplorare il tema saranno i direttori di quattro istituzioni pionieristiche: Margarita Aguilar del Museo del Barrio di New YorkThelma Golden dello Studio Museum di Harlem,Madeleine Grynsztejn del Museum of Contemporary Art di Chicago, e Beatrix Ruf dellaKunsthalle di Zurigo.
Ognuno di loro porterà il proprio punto di vista su ciò che significa definire delle strategie per i musei all’interno dell’attuale trasformazione dell’ecologia della cultura.
Eppure, mentre mi preparavo a moderare l’incontro, mi sono reso conto di quanto sia grande e scivoloso il tema. Un appiglio mi è sembrato necessario.

Paesaggio retorico 
Impostare una mission non è così facile come sembra. Una mission deve descrivere quello che un museo fa oppure quello che dovrebbe fare? Si tratta di obiettivi tangibili rispetto ai quali le istituzioni sono responsabili, o ideali platonici ai quali semplicemente ispirarsi? La mission di un museo deve offrire un inventario delle risorse e delle attività, oppure funzionerebbe meglio se proposta come una «cristallizzazione» di principi fondamentali?
Come può la mission di un museo riflettere la sua posizione sul progresso culturale, sui fattori demografici, le fonti di finanziamento e le opportunità tecnologiche?
Secondo un manuale del 2005 della Associazione dei Musei d’Arte Americana «la mission dovrebbe esprimere ciò che il museo fa, per chi, e perché». Se solo fosse così semplice. In realtà, la missioncomprende un sorprendentemente vario paesaggio retorico, da quella piacevolmente corta dell’ Akron Art Museum «Per arricchire la vita attraverso l’arte moderna», a quella del Museum of Modern Art con le sue 420 parole – opus magnum – e i suoi sei sotto paragrafi.
Brevi o lunghe che siano, comunque, ciò che si nasconde dietro le frasi redatte con attenzione  è un vorticoso calderone della politica organizzativa del museo stesso.
Chiunque sia stato coinvolto in un esercizio di elaborazione della mission sa che i dirigenti e il consiglio di un museo hanno spesso difficoltà ad esprimere con chiarezza e con un spiegazioni accattivanti le loro istituzioni. Addirittura i direttori con una lunga esperienza possono bloccarsi quando viene chiesto loro di sintetizzare ciò che la loro organizzazione rappresenta.
Il compito è reso ancor più difficile dalle pressioni del «ragionare in gruppo», dalla necessità di riconoscere i progetti preferiti dei principali stakeholders, dal consueto riflesso istituzionali di dare una strizzatina d’occhio ad ogni occasione, interna ed esterna.
Nel corso del tempo, dopo molte revisioni e modifiche, la mission può assumere un aspetto nodoso ed elaborato, risultato di una nebbia di «burocratese».

Continua su Il Giornale dell’Arte

Peter Pakesch on Museums

When I first walked into the Turbine Hall, at the time when it was still a building site, I was overwhelmed by the place. Even in its raw state I thought that this was going to offer a whole new experience for the museum visitor. When I arrived at Tate Modern’s opening in 2000, I was again thrilled by the impact of its immense space. One of the first things to see was Louise Bourgeois’ monumental work Toi et Moi: I Do, I Undo, I Redo – three vast steel towers with staircases that encouraged the spectators to climb up the structures. With her bold use of materials and a distinct sense of architectural space, she blurred the boundaries between the idea of inside and outside and showed how the meaning of a museum space can change. Bourgeois set the pace for a new field of action. The following works in the Turbine Hall – Juan Muñoz’s sculptural installation Double Bind and Anish Kapoor’s giant stretched pvc form Marsyas – were equally impressive in their powers of transformation.

Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project was different again – a radical new interactive museum experience. It was as if it changed, for a moment, the meaning of the museum as we know it. It made me think: what would it be like to install Walter de Maria’sLightning Field in the comfort of my home? But we can’t physically take Eliasson’s installation home with us. And it doesn’t really relate to the weather either. An astonishing number of people used the work and became part of a complex network of relations that the project generated, which went well beyond the purely theoretical. It could actually be felt.

Since the construction of classical museums, architecture has undergone substantial change, but museum practice has lagged behind. Art, on the other hand, has often been able to react to rapidly shifting parameters.
In many instances it has exploded the confines of museums and galleries.

Few museum spaces can deal with the interaction of art, architecture and its public. Tate Modern has done this well. Although architects of Modernism have often spoken of the need to address these concerns, such questions have actually been posed far too infrequently. Two exceptions are the Pompidou Centre and the very influential, almost legendary practice of Archigram.

In the year 2000, Archigram architect Peter Cook and Colin Fournier won the competition to design the Kunsthaus in Graz. It is the first important public building that can be attributed directly to Archigram’s ideology. In addition to numerous innovations, the architecture of the museum establishes a radically new relationship to its urban environment. The transparent ground floor, with its combination of functional rooms, offers striking evidence of that concept. Media art laboratory, shop, foyer, restaurant and auditorium intermingle and thereby ensure a steady flow of activities, while the public is drawn into the interior and there acts on an urban stage. We are confronted with a serenely performative exploration of public behaviour. Is this not exactly the same motif that motivated Eliasson’s installation? Is it not fascinating to see how people organise themselves, how they move, how they turn an empty, undefined cavernous structure into a social space and redefine interaction?

To my mind, this is a good sign for the future of museums. Previously, they were defined in terms of preservation – a hermetic approach to the buildings was the norm. They acted as vessels for a cultural heritage. Now museum spaces are moving more towards being arenas for cultural exchange and social experimentation. At the Kunsthaus, this experiment has been reinforced by another innovation. The architects have covered the eastern façade of the building with a skin of fluorescent light tubes that turns the entire surface into an urban display screen. We look forward with curiosity to see how it influences the surroundings, going beyond the confines of museum walls and out into the urban life beyond.

Peter Pakesch is head of the Landesmuseum Joanneum and the Kunsthaus Graz.
Translated by Catherine Schelber

IL Guggenheim e il Centre Pompidou: Musei Nomadi


di Francesca Pini

Il museo non è più immobile. Vuole andare oltre i propri prestigiosi muri, siano quelli di Frank Llyod Wright o di Renzo Piano. E allora s’inventa il “temporary museum” con strutture leggere e trasportabili, come nel caso di questo BMW Guggehheim Lab che ieri è stato inaugurato a New York (e fra due anni verrà trasferito a Berlino e poi in Asia). O come i tre tendoni del Centre Pompidue di Parigi, che si toglie l’abito paludato. Da Ottobre, il museo nomade si accamperà, ogni tre mesi, in una regione francese per portare a grande arte a stretto contatto dei cittadini (con attori appositamente formati per fare e visite guidate), puntando sulla decentralizzazione. I musei stanno cercando nuovi pubblici non solo altrove (nei Paesi del Golfo) ma anche nella vecchia Europa e il modello di riferimento sono i social network che mettono in rete le persone e che fanno condividere scelte, e fermenti rivoluzionari. In questo caso il Guggenheim investe le sue energie sulla plasticità delle menti dei cittadini che abitano o passano da da New York chiamandoli a dare il loro contributo riflettendo sul tema del confort. E puntando sulle idee da condividere per una sempre maggiore democratizzazione del vivere urbano. Tant’e che lo slogan su youtube del progetto è : “Le soluzioni vengono dalla gente”. “Una delle principali caratteristiche dell’arte contemporanea è questa mescolanza fra arte e vita, e un museo ha proprio questo come compito. Siamo pronti ad accogliere le idee di tutti e non di un solo segmento della società: “, dice Richard Armstrong, direttore del Guggenheim di New York. “Noi abbiamo un grande problema: nelle nostre collezioni c’è un fondo molto limitato di disegni e modelli riguardanti l’architettura e l’urbanesimo, in quanto lo scopo primario e originario del museo è sempre stato quello di approfondire i principali movimenti artistici. Quindi come risolvere questo gap? Andando sulla strada. Oggi non avrebbe più senso formare una raccolta con dei disegni: gli archivi cartacei sono stati surclassati dai file digitali quindi il Guggenheim ha deciso di percorrere una via nuova”. La via che intende Armstrong è una vera strada nell’East Village dove l’arte è di casa: 33 East First Street (tra la Prima e la Seconda strada). Qui, in uno spazio abbandonato, tra un edificio e l’altro, s’inserisce come un cassetto questo Lab, una struttura di 230 metri quadrati in fibra di carbonio (chiamata anche “pet-architecture” per le ridotte dimensioni, come quelle di un pet, (un cucciolo) disegnata dall’atelier coreano Bow-W Questo Lab  sicuramente porterà dei benefci al quartiere, migliorandolo “, dice Armstrong. “Sarà come averestanza in più nella propria casa: lì ci si potrà trovare con gli amici a discutere del futuo della propria città e della propria vita. Questo voler essere un museo community è una spinta imprescindibile per il Guggenheim che in questo Lab ha coinvolto esperti di discipline diverse, dal direttore d’orchestra argentino Daniel Barenboin allo psicologo teorico inglese Humphrey, al sindaco di Harare nello Zimbabwe, all’artista thailandese Tiravanjia. Una vera e propria piattaforma di elaborazione progettuale. “Il Guggenheim è nato come esperimento e ha cambiato l’approccio delle persone verso l’arte. Con questo progetto torniamo alle origini”. Ma oltre Berlino altre città potranno candidarsi a ospitare questo Lab?” Si ,Certo. Ma non credo sceglieremo ancora un’altra città europea, sarò piuttosto africana o sudamericana”. Peccato, altrimenti Palermo avrebbe potuto mettersi in lista riparando a quella scellerata, inaudita contesa fra  poteri politici locali che fece fallire un’operazione culturale di respiro internazionale: veder nascere un satellite Guggenheim a Palazzo Sant’Elia. Ciò dissuase il museo americano dal creare in Sicilia il suo secondo polo italiano (favorendo così la scelta di Vercelli).

Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Rivoli. Quale futuro?

Beatrice Merz e Andrea Bellini

Il sistema dell’arte negli ultimi anni è cambiato profondamente nella struttura e nel tipo di pubblico. L’arte contemporanea, fino a qualche tempo fa esclusivo appannaggio di un piccolo gruppo di appassionati ed esperti, si è trasformata in un fenomeno sempre più allargato, in grado di attrarre un pubblico molto ampio e diversificato dal punto di vista della formazione culturale e della provenienza sociale. Attualmente il sistema dell’arte, rispetto ai primi anni Ottanta, è almeno dieci volte più grande in termini di pubblico, di spazi espositivi, di artisti e professionisti coinvolti nel settore.

Le trasformazioni avvenute all’interno del sistema dell’arte impongono un ripensamento delle funzioni stesse dei musei d’arte contemporanea. Questi ultimi, in molti casi, sono gestiti secondo una cultura museale fondata su un’idea di museo come “tempio”, come luogo aulico e distante rispetto a chi ne fruisce. Oggi ripensare il museo d’arte contemporanea significa rimetterne in discussione, rispetto a questi presupposti, le stesse finalità: significa ripensarne gli scopi, anche nei confronti del territorio e della sua crescita, significa aprire il museo ad un pubblico nuovo, e costruire la sua attività in modo più collegiale e aperto. Il museo d’arte contemporanea avrà una funzione sempre più strategica nella società futura, in quanto ha il potere (e il dovere) di ispirare il suo pubblico, di influire sul modo nel quale le persone interpretano il mondo e anche la propria esistenza. Il museo d’arte contemporanea deve rappresentare un luogo di incontro e di confronto, deve creare esperienza. Conservare ed esporre opere d’arte è una missione centrale ma -da sola- non è sufficiente a interpretare le nuove funzioni e i nuovi obbiettivi del museo d’arte contemporanea del XXI secolo.

Diverse ricerche realizzate negli ultimi anni sul pubblico dei musei europei e americani hanno rivelato che per la maggior parte dei visitatori le esperienze sociali e ricreative hanno la stessa importanza, se non un’importanza maggiore, delle attività intellettuali ed educative. Questo significa che il museo deve saper offrire al suo pubblico un’esperienza totale: la parte didattica, sociale, interattiva, l’incontro diretto con il personale specializzato del museo, devono “completare” la visita e renderla un fatto unico e memorabile.

Quale futuro per Rivoli?
Oggi la scommessa consiste nel pensare, pur nel rispetto della straordinaria storia del Castello di Rivoli, questo nuovo modello: il museo come “tempio” ma anche il museo come “forum”. L’idea è di mettere a punto una struttura museale elastica ed interdisciplinare, in grado di produrre a un ritmo serrato non solo mostre d’arte contemporanea internazionali di grande prestigio e di ricerca, ma anche diversi eventi culturali: festival specialistici dedicati ai vari aspetti della cultura visiva contemporanea (cinema, video-arte, teatro, rassegne di documentari); un’attività di ricerca storiografica sul passato recente (mostre, convegni, eventi dedicati a importanti personalità come artisti, intellettuali, critici e storici dell’arte); un’attività didattica e culturale destinata al territorio e alle diverse componenti sociali che lo formano. La posizione del visitatore, la sua formazione, la funzione del museo come servizio pubblico, assumono un’importanza fondamentale nel ripensare l’istituzione.

Un museo come ‘Mondo’
Il Castello di Rivoli, anche a causa della sua collocazione così distante dal centro di Torino, non può limitarsi ad essere semplicemente una finestra sul mondo (quindi un luogo per aggiornare il pubblico su quanto sta accadendo oggi nell’arte contemporanea), ma deve poter divenire esso stesso “mondo”, quindi una destinazione, un luogo dove si elabora cultura e si fa esperienza, dove si tengono eventi culturali diversificati e rilevanti, dove si costruisce un tipo di attività didattica e associativa dedicata alla crescita del territorio e di tutte le sue componenti sociali. Crediamo sia importante trasformare lo svantaggio della lontananza del Castello di Rivoli dal centro cittadino in un elemento di forza: il Museo deve sapersi porre alla guida del territorio con una energia centripeta forte, deve poter elaborare proposte, esprimere complessità e diversità, deve poter divenire il centro di elaborazione di un pensiero originale, proiettato verso il futuro. Pensiamo a Rivoli come ad una sorta di laboratorio polifunzionale del presente, un luogo di “riflessione” con una forte apertura internazionale e al tempo stesso una grande attenzione nei confronti del territorio.

Il ruolo dei direttori
Il Castello di Rivoli deve rafforzare il suo ruolo di centro di interesse culturale regionale, nazionale e internazionale. Per raggiungere questo risultato è fondamentale che i nuovi direttori si pongano come “connettori” di esperienze culturali diverse, come autori di un progetto di ampio respiro, il cui obbiettivo è quello di inserire in modo forte il museo al centro del dibattito culturale del nostro tempo e farne uno strumento reale di sviluppo sociale e civile.
Non possiamo non essere d’accordo con Pontus Hulten quando sostiene che il compito fondamentale del direttore di un museo è quello di crearsi un pubblico, non essere il curatore di grandi mostre. Bisogna creare un pubblico che si senta legato all’istituzione, che abbia fiducia in essa. Un museo non è una biennale, un centro d’arte o una galleria: è un’istituzione culturale pubblica che deve sapersi conquistare un’utenza. Si stabilisce un buon rapporto con il pubblico quando questo arriva a provare -nei confronti dell’istituzione- un senso vero di appartenenza e di partecipazione.


Bruce Altshuler

New forms of artistic production have generated new kinds of objects that present challenges for museums, and for the people who deal with the preservation, presentation, and reinstallation of works in our institutions.
Installation and time-based art in particular raise significant questions for conservators, curators, collection managers, and technicians. For museum collecting of contemporary art involves not only decisions regarding the
artworks to be acquired, but it also demands a reconsideration of how the object of art is conceived. I tend to think about this problem in terms of the
issue of identity, taking as central the philosopher W.V.O. Quine’s maxim, “no entity without identity.”
Quine’s view is that we really do not understand our conception of a certain kind of object without knowing the conditions under which we would say that it is the same object at a later time, especially after it has suffered some significant change. In the case of a wooden boat that has been damaged, we generally would take it to be the same boat after some, or perhaps all, of its planks were replaced. But we might not believe that a given installation by Nam June Paik was the same work after, say, the projectors were replaced by equipment of
a very different kind after the originals could no longer be repaired—a change that altered the look and ambiance of the piece.
As this last example indicates, considering how an object retains its identity through time, and what kind of changes admit our saying that it is the same object after alteration, is critical for establishing criteria for the preservation—including the reinstallation—of artworks.
When objects are acquired by a museum, it is the responsibility of the collections department and the conservators to maintain them. The traditional mandate that has guided conservation practice is to preserve the object as
closely as possible to the way that it was when completed by the artist. This is the sense in which conservators have viewed their primary role of maintaining the integrity of the artwork, and it naturally issues in the principle of minimizing physical intervention.
But new art forms have changed what is demanded of conservators and collection managers. With works that are technologically-dependant, or are composed of living or ephemeral materials, or that invite the public to take
away their constituent parts, it seems that more change must be permitted than with traditional pieces of painting and sculpture. Such artworks, it seems to me, might be better viewed as something like ongoing processes than as objects completed at a given time. The challenge here is to develop a conception of the art object that allows a work to remain the same work despite significant
change of constituent elements and physical condition, and even radical alteration of its visual appearance. I think that viewing art objects as entities that are never truly completed helps us to make sense of, and to deal with, installations and other new kinds of art objects. In his essay “The Work Itself,” sociologist and jazz pianist Howard Becker compares the art object to a jazz score, which allows for improvisation in different conditions but remains essentially the same work over time. An analogous view seems applicable to the new art forms that we are discussing. Yet one might argue that this also applies to more traditional artworks. Becker gives the example of classical Greek sculptures, which at the time of their creation were usually painted in bright colors. Here I think that we are disposed to say that the white marble statues
in our museums are the same sculptures that once stood in ancient Greece, despite their being at some visual and conceptual remove from their creators’ intentions. The question of which changes are acceptable, of which parameters we adopt in order to maintain the integrity of the art object, is critical, especially for museums. And it is especially important for curators interested in displaying or re-presenting contemporary artworks.
Installations raise this problem in an extreme way, and this is due not only to the need to reconfigure their elements in future presentations. For with many installations there is the critical problem of technological obsolescence. The production of slide projectors, for example, has been discontinued and as of this year slide projector bulbs are being phased out. In order to provide for works using this technology, museums have been stockpiling slide projectors and their parts.
But in the long run they will be gone. What kind of provisions should be put in place to ensure the long-term existence of such works? In her paper “Authenticity, Change and Loss,” Pip Laurenson, the Head of Timebased Media Conservation at Tate, London cites an interview she conducted with Bruce
Nauman around his Art Makeup, 1967–68. When this 16mm film projection was transferred to DVD, at the suggestion of the artist it incorporated the whirring noise of the original projector, which Nauman considered essential to the piece. On can imagine a similar thing done with works of slide projection.
Indeed, one of the benefits we have now in dealing with these issues in contemporary art is that more often than not the artist is available for consultation. Museum acquisition protocols increasingly involve conducting
interviews with artists to discuss the options for replacing degraded or non-functioning components, for example. Of course this is not to say that it is possible to extend the life of all artworks. Many works by Eva Hesse, for instance, are made of materials whose inherent vice leads to disintegration that
cannot be repaired, and these pieces, it seems, must be allowed to “die.”
But perhaps the artist is not the last word on how his or her work should be treated, reinstalled, or modified. This question intersects with a major curatorial issue, namely the respective roles of curators and artists.
Curators and institutions carry a great deal of authority in the re-staging, and hence conservation through reactivation, of some installation-based work. In this connection, curators play an important role in the construction of aesthetic meaning, knowledge, and ultimately value. The artist’s authority
is occasionally challenged in the process of negotiating between artistic and institutional considerations. There are many cases of curators using artists in exhibitions and for exhibitionary purposes with which they might not agree. For example, a number of artists refused to be included in Harald Szeeman’s
Documenta 5 (1972), despite initially consenting, because they were unhappy with his organization of the exhibition around themes they felt were inappropriate to their work. A more recent, and more dramatic case, is that
of Christoph Büchel’s grandiose installation at Mass MOCA, in which the artist sued the museum to prevent it exhibiting an installation
that was incomplete. The rights of the artist over the control of his/her work
continue to be of critical concern. In thinking about such matters, a central
question is: Who has the authority to decide what is the authentic work of art? A vandal can put some paint on a Jackson Pollock in a museum and it would count as defacement, but a museum conservator can make the same mark as in-fill and it counts as maintenance of that work, due to the institutional authority of the conservation profession and of the museum. Authority endows authenticity. In considering whether and how to reinstall or even re-create installation artworks, or whether and how to realize planned
works unrealized during the lifetime of an artist, we tend to think that these decisions as to whether something is an authentic work are made according to principled argument. And of course there are debates among staff members and various other institutional stakeholders. But in the end I think that such decisions are heavily influenced, if not determined, by the market, and by institutional interests in keeping objects of value and prestige “alive.” So while some might argue that a given media installation should not be shown or be considered the artwork that it once was after its initial technology is gone, absent directions by the artist, the museum’s financial investment, and interest
in having that work in its collection will generally outweigh factors of high principle.
Such market and institutional pressures often settle the outcome, either directly or by influencing norms and standards over time.
I used to take a rather traditional view of such issues, reluctant to admit radical alteration of an installation artwork, or of an artwork of non-standard constitution, when such changes are not explicitly licensed by the artist. But I am increasingly inclined to view these changes as part of the ongoing life of works of art. And while I am disposed to argue against institutional forces that oppose my somewhat conservative sense of what is necessary for a given artwork to remain authentic through alteration, re-installation, or re-creation, I recognize that institutional pressures probably will prevail. But this also
is part of the life of artworks. As Duchamp recognized, artworks are what they are and have the significance that they do because of much more than the intentions of their creators, and in their long histories their natures
and meanings will change. And no matter how counterintuitive the view, it seems to me that it is useful to see works of art as more processlike than object-like, and that viewing them in this way is quite helpful in dealing with some of the many challenges of contemporary art.

Da Curating Now n.8, magazine prodotto nell’ambito del Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice del California College of the Arts.


Niklas Maak, Charlotte Klonk and Thomas Demand on Museum Display

Installation view of Urs Fischer's You (2007) at Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York
Installation view of Urs Fischer’s You (2007) at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York
Courtesy Karen Richter © Urs Fischer

Una riflessione che tre specialisti nel campo dell’arte propongono partendo dalle radici storiche di che cosa il “Museum Display” rappresentava allora, confrontandolo con le metedologie e la produzione di arte e la nascita di gallerie contemporanee oggi.

Destroy the Museum


Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP), 1968,
interpreted by Wendelien van Oldenborgh, 2010
Installation view, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2010
Photo: Peter Cox

The destruction of the existing model of the museum seems to be the only way to rebuild the symbolic capital of art. Through strategies of dispersion, extra-disciplinarity, and even funding cocktails, some institutions are beginning to chip away at their own foundations.

CE: I’d like to start with a distinction you have made between major and minor strands in art. What you call a major strand is more formally or materially “innovative” and “challenging,” while the minor strand is an analysis of existing conditions, a repetition or reenactment. The situation you describe was more than confirmed for me on a recent visit to Berlin, where I saw two exhibitions that seemed to illustrate the differences perfectly… 
The first was a major, product-orientated contemporary art exhibition of the spectacle school, Carsten Höller’s installation in Hamburger Bahnhof. People could pay 1000 Euros to stay a night in the museum, receiving five-star attention and exclusive access to the public collection. The overnight “bedroom” was a high panoptical platform in the center of the room, accessible through an otherwise locked gate below the public grandstand, from which the ordinary visitor was invited to gawp at a motley array of animals caged in weak modernist designer pens. There is something almost pre-revolutionary in this shameless celebration of wealth on the part of both the artist, who was clearly given far too much money to produce something of value, and the institution, which is home to the Flick collection and other public-private initiatives but serves only private interest.
On view at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt was “The Potosí Principle,” in many ways a remarkable show, curated by artists and telling a story of early capitalism and primary exploitation in the Spanish colonies of South America. It used the production of art in Bolivia to portray what art shows us about the world and to chart connections between the baroque artistic languages of past and present. 
What interests me about these exhibitions is the role of the curator. In Höller’s case, the curators facilitated his idea in order to attract publicity. In “The Potosí Principle,”the artists, as curators, refused the new in order to gain a critical distance from the works in the show and to make a bigger point about art’s relation to society. The latter seems the most interesting, but it also is firmly situated in the minor strand—and all the better for it.
Finally, I cannot avoid mentioning a superb curatorial project called Intolerance by Willem de Rooij at the Neue Nationalgalerie, which also privileged thinking over innovative product design.

ML: The idea of the “majors” and the “minors” was a simple exercise in trying to go beyond the dichotomies of mainstream and alternative, local and global, center and periphery, and even beyond the dialectics of local-global-glocal and center-periphery-relative periphery. Perhaps the majors and the minors can help us think about the current conditions for the production, presentation, distribution, and mediation of contemporary art that does not buy into base entertainment and spectacle, art that has a more complex agenda. The minor is a strand that runs parallel to the infotainment industry’s major strand, but which is in a different place in terms of influence and power. It is certainly less funded in monetary terms and yet, for brains and sensibility, it is the richer of the two. This is where “the new”—however ambiguous that term is—experiments and challenges the staus quo. In the art world, the majors and the minors are diverging more and more. Separation is the notion of the day: artists and other cultural producers start their own self-determined, continuous activities to avoid the effects of the dominant discourse. Rather than donate their collections and money to public institutions, as was the case in most of the Western world until fairly recently, collectors and wealthy donors found their own institutions. 
We can now speak of the need for strategic separatism—a protective maneuver that creates space for important, and even pressing, considerations—while acknowledging that we are implicated in the system that is being questioned. If I want to place Carsten Höller’s exhibition on this map (I did not see “The Potosí Principle”), it is as an over-identification with a viral presence within the mainstream. His early work has an edge I always appreciated, whether we think of the small vicious toys or the beautiful performance/excursion in a park in Glasgow. Too much money has spoiled more than one oeuvre.
The minor strand seems to be engaged with the relatively closed production of new ideas, new protocols, choreographies, and orchestrations. I have no doubt that fascinating stuff will continue to come out of this: my concern is whether the minors will only be preaching to the converted and the majors running totally dry of content. How do you think about the symbolic capital generated by the minor strand? How can it best be used?

CE: In many ways I think we are using up the symbolic capital of the museum. The core audience still comes for what the museum represented in the past rather than what it does now, so at some point they will give up, I imagine, as will many modernist-trained critics. We are working hard on building different routes to a public, however, I think the art world by and large has failed to address new publics. For our museum, the Van Abbemuseum, I’m desperately trying to find ways out of this impasse, mostly by leaving the building, or at least dispersing the art across the city and perhaps the world. The art audience in general is probably one of the least interesting audiences for an art (or an institution) that seeks a different relationship with the world and its people. It is the audience least likely to be transformed by an artwork, because it already has a rather strict view of what art can do in the world. I was brought up in a leftist environment, in which we would spend afternoons walking the streets trying to sell newspapers, trying to persuade people of the significance of our political position, standing in the rain in Manchester trying to sell Socialist Organiser or whatever. It sounds a bit pathetic now, but the point is that it was really an attempt, however much it failed, to get ordinary working class people to understand the intellectual arguments we were putting forward. This kind of will has almost entirely been lost, not only at the level of art but of politics as well. Rarely is the effort made to persuade people with a radically different approach to consumer culture. Art could be the site for a different kind of action. Surely the still-remaining public field within art could draw a new kind of audience interested in a different aesthetics, ethics, and politics. It’s easier to rise to that challenge if you work consistently with a particular place and group of people, and that does mean that 365-day-a-year institutions are more suitable than biennials. That’s the symbolic capital I think we need to try to build, and we are only a small part of the way there.

ML: As the director of a museum whose general operation is becoming a model for how to do things differently, how do you relate to the commercial art market?

CE: The simple answer is that I try to relate as little as possible. I run a public institution that is not obliged to make a profit; we work with a limited number of artists, some of whom have galleries that demand their cut, which we give them if we want to buy a work. We turned against the art fairs, because they corrupt you, draw you in on the level of semi-high society, and spit you out as a conformist curator. I face a huge dilemma whenever we buy a work. Why buy? What is it about object possession that is so fundamental to the circulation of art especially with digital copying now? Yet I still buy because I feel I should leave a legacy to whoever comes after. (It is also to support the artist, though this could easily be achieved in other ways). Is this (egotistical) idea of leaving a legacy wrong? I am still seeking an answer, but I know that building an archive seems a more appropriate way to go. We have joined the museum archive and collection into one data bank of things, fact, and opinions, which has resulted in projects like the Living Archive, which represented the history of the museum to itself. This resulted in projects like the Living Archive, which represented the history of the museum to itself, or to parts of the Play Van Abbe program, which looked at the purchases after the Second World War for instance.

ML: I share some of your unease with possessions and property. Yet, I sometimes have to remind myself about the effect object-based artworks can have. The Swedish painting and sculpture I grew up seeing in the homes of my working-class grandparents and great grandmother had a tremendous effect on me.
But back to funding. In Institution Building: Artists, Curators, Architects in the Struggle for Institutional Space (ed. Nikolaus Hirsch et al), it is argued that a dynamic form of institution is the most productive one today—an institution that has a physical “anchor” that can function as a production center, but which at the same time is changeable and can encompass a growing cluster of buildings, is both nearby and far away, both temporary and permanent. This type of institution weaves together curating and architecture. I think there is a lot of potential in this model. My question is how you think about funding and dynamism. What happens if we transfer Hirsch’s institutional model to funding for contemporary art in general and art institutions in particular?

CE: The forms of the “avant-garde” have been taken up and reproduced in contemporary capitalist relations so precisely that dynamism just sounds like flexibility or innovation, which feeds the marketers and their paymasters. 
I am interested in two ideas: one is the notion of a dispersed museum that would indeed reduce its centrifugal power to split and separate out into a city or even wider. The second is Brian Holmes’s concept of extra-disciplinarity, of setting up projects or investigations that function outside the academic and economic borders defining institutional behaviors. In that sense, I would agree that funding priorities should change. So, I guess I am for dynamism as long as it is not about endless production of new, temporary prototypes in order to see which will survive in the market, but rather about the destruction of an existing institution.

ML: I sympathize with the idea of a dispersed art museum. How do you generate funds for the museum, and how do you think about that, both theoretically and practically? I have come to believe more and more in funding cocktails, contrary to what I would have argued for 10 years ago, when public funding seemed preferable in terms of self-determination. Full funding from one source can faciliate “coups d’etat.” It is also important to point out that instrumentalization has galloped over the last decade and almost obliterated the previously respected arm’s-length principle. Private donors seem to generate different, and perhaps more severe, forms of self-censorship.
Another aspect of funding cocktails is somehow connected with what you call the failure to address new publics. In the future, we as curators and directors need to take mediation more seriously. There are ways to do this that don’t have to be overly didactic. Many emerging curators have limited interest in what art does in culture and society, how it can exist and be encountered and debated, beyond a narrow peer group.
At the same time, I believe that much is to be gained if, as Simon Sheikh has suggested, we focus on the co-production of public and semi-public space, rather than “reaching out to new publics.” The recent boom in the commercial market has its corollary in a turn toward bureaucracy. While the commercial market got its blows over the last couple of years, the cultural bureaucracy is still going strong, even increasing its influence.

CE: In terms of money, I am not sure there is such a thing as cleaner or dirtier money: there is just cash to be able to do things and it is what you do with it that counts. Paradoxically, I think it would be good if funding for the arts decreased in general. It would make absurdities, like the Carsten Höller nonsense, less likely and also bring the cost of more interesting artworks within range of more pockets. The fact that the richest private collectors can consistently outbid publicly-funded museums, which then have to beg for donations, is not a very desirable state. Though I am not against an art market as such, nor against money being exchanged for art, I do think it should have less significance and be challenged for its role as arbiter of taste and meaning by those minor forces we have talked about. It’s rather like my view of capitalism in general: it’s fine in smaller doses and under humane conditions. I would always support diversity and deviance, whether that’s in culture, politics, or the economy. I absolutely agree about mediation. That is what excited me about “The Potosí Principle.” Co-production of meaning, which would suggest a broader range of artistic forms and voices, is very desirable. I think both of these developments can best emerge when an art institution takes up a clear position and asks those who are interested to get involved. At that point, the control of the program has to leave the curatorial offices and be shared with people outside of it.

CHARLES ESCHE (b. 1962) is a British curator and writer. Since 2004, he has been Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. He is cofounder and co-editor of Afterall Journaland Afterall Books with Mark Lewis. In 2005 he was co-curator of the 9th International Istanbul Biennial with Vasif Kortun and in 2002 the co-curator with Hou Hanru and Song Wan Kyung of the Gwangju Biennale. 

MARIA LIND is the newly-appointed Director of Tensta Konsthall. From 2008 to 2010, she was director of the Masters Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York. She was head of Iaspis in Stockholm in 2005-2007 and head of Kunstverein Munchen in 2002-2004. From 1997 to 2001 she was a curator at Modern Museet and in 1998 a co-curator of Manifesta 2, Europe’s art biennale.


LE FUNZIONI DEL MUSEO: appuntamento con la riflessione sulla contemporaneità al Maxxi di Roma

Artisti, curatori e studiosi di fama internazionale riuniti a Roma per discutere sul senso e il ruolo dello spazio museale contemporaneo, inteso come luogo pubblico e spazio di sperimentazione artistica e di dinamiche relazionali, attorno al quale si sviluppa la dialettica della creazione attuale.

Questo il cardine del convegno “Le funzioni del museo/Functions of the Museum”, tenutosi al Palazzo delle Esposizioni il 3 e il 4 Aprile, primo di una serie di appuntamenti che il MAXXI – Museo Nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, ha organizzato in vista della sua prossima apertura romana.
Il nuovo museo per l’arte e l’architettura contemporanee, progettato da Zaha Hadid, intende presentarsi, a partire dai primi mesi del 2010, come centro di produzione contemporanea a respiro internazionale, dedicato alla conservazione della creazione artistica e alla promozione del dibattito sulla cultura e la società attuali. Il convegno è inserito nell’ambito del progetto preliminare di riflessione sulla posizione che il MAXXI vuole assumere nella contemporaneità: rappresenta un primo atto fondativo di messa in discussione delle iniziative che il futuro museo intende promuovere e delle attività che vuole stimolare.

A turno quattro relatori, introdotti da Stefano Chiodi, curatore del convegno, hanno aperto e sviluppato alcuni punti teorici e presentato esperienze e attività diversamente istituzionali o deliberatamente alternative. La prima sessione, presenziata da Anna Mattirolo, direttore del MAXXI Arte, ha avuto un carattere più storico-critico, vertendo in prevalenza sul dibattito intorno alla critica dell’istituzione, considerata e indagata nei suoi sviluppi teorici e sperimentali dalla fine degli anni ’60 a oggi. La seconda è stata dedicata a tematiche più specifiche riguardanti alcuni aspetti della fruizione dello spazio museale e significative questioni linguistiche e filosofiche a proposito della presentazione della produzione artistica, all’interno dell’attuale “sistema” dell’arte.  


Ha aperto il convegno l’intervento di John C. Welchman, professore di storia e teoria dell’arte contemporanea all’University of California di San Diego, che ha presentato il volume “Institutional Critique and After (SoCCAS Symposia vol. 2)”. Il professore ha introdotto, per la prima volta in Italia, il dibattito suscitato dalle posizioni della “Institutional Critique”, una linea di ricerca artistica e teorica, iniziata negli anni ’60 con la decostruzione del concetto del “white cube” asettico e mirante alla messa in discussione dei dogmi disciplinanti dello spazio museale novecentesco, ancora in prevalenza basato su canoni e funzionalità ottocenteschi, e della galleria d’arte. L’intervento di Welchman ha attraversato le dinamiche storico-critiche degli ultimi quaranta anni, per concentrarsi in particolare sull’opera dell’artista americano Mike Kelley e sul movimento attivista degli The Yes Men. Come spiega lo storico dell’arte, gli artisti della generazione di fine anni ’60, Marcel Broodthaers e Daniel Buren in Europa e Michael Asher e Hans Haake negli Stati Uniti, ha preceduto la formulazione del concetto di “Institutional Critique”  e hanno criticato il museo modernista, rivendicando uno spazio flessibile e aperto, in cui si rendano visibili e quindi contestabili le regole implicite del sistema espositivo e rappresentativo. A partire da questo bagaglio concettuale una nuova generazione di artisti degli anni ’80, tra cuiAndrea Fraser, Mike Kelley, Renée Green e gli italiani Cesare Pietroiusti eLuca Vitone, si è misurata col tema della critica al sistema espositivo come linguaggio, in molti casi moderando i toni più aspri della contestazione anni ’60 e allargandosi a questioni inerenti alla rappresentazione della cultura visiva e al contesto relazionale a cui appartiene lo stesso museo. 

To Be Continued on

Bureaux de Change

by Alex Farquharson

Many of the key independent curators of the 1990s are now running major European art centres. Their radical and inclusive approach to the function of the gallery has been coined ‘new institutionalism’

If the rise of independent curating is one of the key stories of the art of the 1990s, attention has since shifted to the effects many of those independent curators have had on institutions. Since the Millennium a number of curators who in large part made their names and developed their practices outside institutions are now running serious, medium-sized centres of contemporary art in Europe. Between 1999 and 2002, for instance, Nicolaus Schafhausen took over Kunstverein Frankfurt, Maria Hlavajova took on BAK in Utrecht, Nicolas Bourriaud and Jérôme Sans became the founding directors of Palais de Tokyo, Vasif Kortun founded Platform Garanti Contemporary Art in Istanbul, and Catherine David, Charles Esche and Maria Lind took charge of Witte de With in Rotterdam, Rooseum in Malmo and Kunstverein München respectively.1 While most of these individuals had previously worked in institutions, often on a curatorial rather than directorial level, all were also known for their freelance work in the increasingly flexible terrain of art in the 1990s, whether curating Manifesta (Lind and Hlavajova) or the Istanbul Biennial (Kortun in 1993) or co-founding an idiosyncratic art space (in the UK, Lind at Salon 3 and Esche at The Modern Institute), a critical journal (Bourriaud’s Documents sur l’Art) or a critical and curatorial studies programme (Esche’s Protoacademy in Edinburgh). Besides guest curating, these individuals had developed singular voices as critics and public speakers, especially with regard to articulating curating’s expanded field. The recent shift in institutional thinking, a phenomenon that has begun going by the name of ‘new institutionalism’ – a term borrowed from economics and sociology – is a consequence of formerly independent (or quasi-independent) curators taking charge of a significant number of venues concentrated on a social democratic axis in north-central Europe: the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and Germany.2

To be continued on Frieze Magazine, Issue 101, September 2006

Multimedia Communication Issues: Why, What and When

A paper about a fundamental, three-fold issue concerning interactive multimedia communication. What is the best timing for providing information about an exhibition? And, depending on the answer: what should be the goal(s) be? What kind of information should be provided? We want to challenge the implicit assumption that ’before the visit’ is the best time for delivering synthetic, promotional and practical information, while ‘during the visit’ is the best time for providing in-depth information. We propose here that two additional important segments should be considered: users who have already visited the exhibition, and users who will never visit it at all. We suspect that ’after the visit’ could be a suitable time for pursuing a strong cultural impact (providing in-depth content, multimedia material, links to interesting sources, etc.). Moreover, past visitors are usually easy targets to reach: they bought tickets! Also, non-visitors could be interested in receiving in-depth communication. Our discussion is based on observations and data collected during two extensive user studies (involving more than 250 users) conducted on the occasion of the exhibition Enigma Helvetia, held at Museo Cantonale d’Arte and Museo d’Arte Moderna, in Lugano (Ticino, Switzerland) in 2008. Additional observations are drawn from a third user study, still ongoing, for the exhibition Look at me, at the same museum.

It can be read here.

Public/Private: How will Museums be able to collect?

From: Art Basel ConversationsThursday, June 16, 2011

Speakers | Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern, London
Martin Roth, Director General, Dresden State Art Collections/Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and Incoming Director, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Moderator | András Szántó, Author and consultant to arts and philanthropic organizations, New York

Nikolaus Hirsch – Institution Building as Curatorial Practice

What defines the contemporary art institution? Who are the authors in the construction of institutional space? Is it possible to built an institution while producing art? In times in which artists create buildings, architects contribute to art exhibitions, and curators act like artists, it seems to be possible to rethink the classical role models, and thus to renegotiate the relation between art production, the exhibition and its spatial envelope. In the following I present four projects that I have been working on in the past years: firstly European Kunsthalle, secondly Exquisite Corpse which is a contribution to the ‘Curating Architecture’ program at Goldsmiths College in London, thirdly unitednationsplaza in Berlin, and lastly Cybermohalla Hub in Delhi. All these works can be understood as attempts that not only concentrate on the spatial presentation of art but that understand the institution as a medium in its own right.

European Kunsthalle.

Spaces of Production is a study that conceptualizes and practically applies spatial scenarios for the European Kunsthalle. Commissioned by Nicolaus Schafhausen, the developed models and strategies were tested in the European Kunsthalle’s founding phase between 2005 and 2007. That is to say that this investigation was not the result of purely theoretical or conceptual considerations, but rather an integral part of the preliminary practice of the European Kunsthalle’s first two years. In this respect, the result is an applied research – an iterative study informed by the resonance between theory and practice. Spaces of Production began as a survey of contemporary institutions in Europe. In addition to the more traditional typologies of galleries, museums, and kunsthallen, the investigation also included institutions that have consciously avoided conventional institutional models, in order to promote them with caution, undermine them, give them new meaning or combine them in different ways. At this juncture it became clear that art institutions have increasingly become spaces of production.

The core of the research appeared to be the increasingly contradictory relation between the institution’s physicalspatial configuration and its programmatic approach. A comparison of analyzed institutions opened up a new field of consideration informed by the contradictory concepts of ‘stability’ and ‘instability.’ Institutions identified with the traditional kunsthalle model define a highly controlled environment: a hermetically closed and neutral interior in a stable architectural framework. Variants of use stand in direct relation to the intrinsic possibilities of architectural elements such as wall, ceiling, and floor. Spatially unstable institutions, on the other hand, aim for a fusion with their urban everyday surroundings. They are defined by flexible, dynamic borders and temporarily adopt existing territories and spatial vacancies in the city, at the risk, however, of turning into event-based activities under the premises of neo-liberal deregulation

The approach developed by Spaces of Production attempts to constructively rethink and recombine the concepts of ‘stability’ and ‘instability’ by gradually implementing a model for action that inextricably merges architecture with curatorial agency. The point of departure in terms of developing a specific and distinctive concept was finding an architectural strategy that guarantees both physical presence on a specific site and temporal changeability. Stable and unstable factors thus become the parameters for a permanent yet growing and accumulative institution.

Analyses conducted for this study showed that a kunsthalle is a structure in constant flux. An investigation of hundred-, ten-, and one-year cycles illustrates that even those art institutions that were planned as stable buildings are subject to constant structural transformation processes, not taken into consideration in most of the current operational models for kunsthallen. For the future European Kunsthalle framework, such realities could imply that permanent negotiation between stability and instability is not understood as a problem or deviation from an ideal condition, but instead as a chance to develop a new typology: a growing kunsthalle that takes the changed artistic, social, and economic conditions at face value, using them as a point of departure for its spatial-architectural strategy..

To continued on..

Pier Luigi Sacco e Michele Trimarchi – Il Museo Invisibile

Sistema Impresa e Cultura

Il ruolo culturale del museo e le sue evoluzioni

Nato da passioni collezionistiche individuali e istituzionali, cresciuto in una temperie borghese come deposito del bello condiviso da ampie fasce della società, il museo attraversa in questi anni una rilevante trasformazione che tende a mutarne le stesse ragioni d’essere, i paradigmi organizzativi, le strategie gestionali; in una parola, la valenza culturale che il museo assume e mantiene all’interno delle dinamiche sociali ed economiche. Se per tutto il secolo diciannovesimo e per buona parte del ventesimo il museo ha costituito, nella visione della società, il luogo di raccolta e protezione di cimeli, reperti, oggetti del passato ammirando i quali gli individui possono ricostruire parte della propria storia, negli ultimi decenni la moltiplicazione dei modelli testimonia un disagio vistoso: il museo tradizionale dialoga con una fetta molto contenuta della società, una sorta di élite erudita (e non necessariamente colta) che decide di trarre benessere identitario anche attraverso la visita; pochi visitatori appartenenti a gruppi sociali omogenei riempiono le sale dei musei di tutto il mondo, provando l’avvenuta visita attraverso l’acquisto dei cataloghi, istituendo paragoni e confronti del tutto discutibili, identificando il museo con la città non già con riferimento al contenuto dell’offerta culturale ma soltanto in termini di identità geografica. Non è un caso che i grandi musei londinesi contengano per lo più reperti e opere d’arte tratti dai diversi continenti e quasi mai legati all’identità e alla cultura della Gran Bretagna.

per leggere interamente il saggio clicca qui.

Luis Camnitzer – Museums and Universities

Vigil at the Rose Art Museum. Photo: christianrholland.

Some questions immediately come to mind: What educational role does a university museum really play? What is the loss and what are its implications for the students if such a museum is closed? These questions were followed by potentially unappealing recognitions, such as the acknowledgement that if, for budget reasons, I had to choose between cutting a medical program or an art program, I would cut the latter. The thing is, I wouldn’t cut art over medicine because I believe that art is less important. I would cut it because, given the way art is placed in the educational system, the choice posed here is one pertaining crafts rather than substance. As substance, artistic thinking is more important than medical thinking, since art may inform and contribute to the latter, while the opposite is less likely. However, as crafts go, a surgeon is more important for society than a painter is. So, for a real answer about the elimination of an art museum from a university one would have to qualify the question in terms of what kind of museum we are talking about, and actually also what kind of university. University art museums have a rather murky role in that they are closer to independent art museums than to universities. In fact, they tend to equate real life with the museum environment, since, educationally speaking, they are its corresponding labs. Rarely is the university art museum used to enhance what is taught in other disciplines in the university. Most educational programs in art museums (whether affiliated with a university or not) are conceived as appendices to exhibitions and organized in the rarefied spheres of scholarship and blockbusting, mostly with the intention of assisting the latter

To continued on…

Massimiliano Gioni – Musei Ideali

Una rassegna ragionata dei modelli museali più interessanti a livello internazionale porta a una conclusione inaspettata: il loro DNA non è la scelta dell’architettura o delle opere d’arte, ma lo spazio sottile che li separa.

Sopra: Una sala della mostra di Ai Weiwei So Sorry, alla Haus Der Kunst, con le opere Soft Ground, 2009, Rooted Upon, 2009, Fairy Tale, 2007. Photo Wilfried Petzi, © Ai Weiwei. Foto di apertura: Shinro Ohtake, Haisha (dentista), 2006. Un intervento strutturale e grafico ha convertito in scultura questa vecchia casa-ufficio di un dentista. È una delle opere dell’Art House Project sull’isola di Naoshima, in Giappone, dove la Benesse Art Site ha trasformato una serie di vecchie abitazioni e intere parti di villaggi abbandonati in opere d’arte.

Interrogarsi oggi su quali siano i musei e gli spazi espositivi ideali significa liberarsi del feticcio del nuovo, dell’architettura a tutti i costi, dell’ansia da costruzione. Alcuni dei migliori musei al mondo sono spazi che non erano originariamente dedicati all’arte e che sono stati recuperati attraverso restauri e conversioni. Molti altri sono musei che sono cresciuti attraverso un lungo processo di stratificazione, in cui architettura e contenuto si sono cristallizzati attraverso anni e anni di coesistenza. Altri spazi espositivi (e pensiamo a quelli carichi di memorie e residui storici utilizzati per alcune biennali ed esposizioni temporanee) sono letteralmente objets trouvés, luoghi dall’architettura e dalle funzioni promiscue, ma proprio per questo provvisti di un alto potere evocativo. Ciò che fa davvero grandi i musei è il software, non solo l’hardware: sono le opere d’arte, le esposizioni, il pubblico, non necessariamente la scorza degli edifici. O meglio, ciò che rende i musei unici è proprio il dialogo tra il software e l’hardware, dialogo che può a volte accendersi in scontro e frizione, o risolversi in perfetta armonia. È proprio nello spazio sottile che separa l’architettura dall’opera d’arte che va ricercato il DNA dei musei: l’intervallo tra l’architettura e l’arte è il vero locus del museo.

to be continued on…. Papini – The Street Project. Per una nuova relazione tra museo, arte e pubblico

Il ruolo di Whitechapel Gallery nel contesto urbano londinese
Whitechapel Gallery è un’istituzione culturale non profit fondata nel 1901 da un religioso, nel cuore di una zona degradata nell’Est di Londra, con il dichiarato intento di “bring great art to the people of East London”(1)  (“portare la grande arte alle persone dell’East End di Londra”). Nella sua storia, lunga più di un secolo, l’istituzione si è sempre distinta per aver attribuito all’arte un’utilità sociale, visione condizionata dalla posizione stessa della Galleria e dai finanziamenti grazie ai quali sostiene la sua attività. La sede è infatti nel quartiere Tower Hamlets, uno dei più poveri dell’intero Regno Unito, ma al tempo stesso tra i più vivaci sul piano creativo; i suoi principali finanziatori sono enti pubblici, dal London Borough of Tower Hamlets all’Arts Council. Per ovviare alle pressioni e agli indirizzi dell’amministrazione locale, sul finire degli anni Ottanta Whitechapel Gallery istituisce una programmazione educativa, facente capo al dipartimento Education, che andasse incontro alle politiche sociali locali, lasciando per contro totale libertà al dipartimento Exhibition nell’ideazione di mostre temporanee dai contenuti più sperimentali (e dunque poco popolari). Il programma educativo si è sempre svolto in accordo con le amministrazioni pubbliche e ha spesso interessato gli abitanti della zona, per lo più persone di origine bangladese (il 57% della popolazione dell’area)(2).
Nel 2007 Whitechapel Gallery è coinvolta in un processo di riqualificazione urbana, fortemente sostenuto dall’amministrazione municipale e di quartiere desiderosa di attivare una serie di politiche volte allaregeneration della zona sud di Brick Lane, così come era avvenuto in anni precedenti per l’area settentrionale, valorizzata grazie alla presenza di numerose industrie creative. Anche questa seconda fase di riqualificazione si caratterizza per il ruolo centrale affidato all’arte contemporanea, alle istituzioni e alle industrie culturali e, in particolare, Whitechapel Gallery viene indicata nei piani urbanistici(3) quale attore fondamentale di questo processo. Per queste ragioni nello stesso anno la Galleria riceve un finanziamento per raddoppiare l’estensione della sua superficie espositiva: dei tredici milioni di sterline necessari per i lavori di ampliamento oltre la metà provengono dagli enti pubblici promotori delle attività della Galleria.

Il progetto The Street
Nel 2008 la sede di Whitechapel Gallery chiude al pubblico per i lavori di ampliamento, durati oltre due anni: in questo periodo di tempo si svolge la fase più significativa del progetto The Street, un progetto che proietta la Galleria all’esterno, diffondendola nel contesto urbano circostante. Il progetto – ideato da Marijke Steedman e Anthony Spira, rispettivamente curatori dei dipartimenti Education e Exhibition.- si articola in due fasi: la prima, nel periodo compreso tra marzo 2008 e gennaio 2009, da svolgere “fuori sede”; la seconda, compresa nel biennio 2009–2011, in cui attuare un programma espositivo per collegare l’interno della nuova sede della Galleria con l’esterno. Per il primo anno il progetto The Street si concentra in Wentworth Street, un luogo simbolico dell’intreccio di attività e diverse condizioni sociali che caratterizza tutto il quartiere, sede giornaliera del Petticoat Lane Market. La prima fase si sviluppa in otto interventi principali, commissionati a otto diversi artisti o collettivi di artisti, che si susseguono durante il primo anno, avendo come base un ex negozio di cappelli con due vetrine sulla strada, The Shop.
Gli artisti invitati a presentare un progetto site–specific sono Nedko Solakov, Bernd Krauss, Shimabuku, Eileen Perrier, Jens Haaning, Henry VIII’s Wives, Melanie Manchot e Minerva Cuevas. Il progetto The Street ha l’intento di proporre uno spazio per l’arte “that is not contained by bricks and mortar. Devised by the Whitechapel to coincide with the closure of its main galleries […], it emphasises the gallery’s role as mediator between art, artists and audiences. It proposes that the field of engagement is neither the gallery, the studio nor the home, but the street(4)” (“che non è delimitato dai tradizionali mattoni e malta. Ideato da Whitechapel in concomitanza con la chiusura delle sue gallerie principali, […] esso sottolinea il ruolo della galleria come mediatore tra arte, artisti e pubblico e propone che il terreno di sfida non sia né la galleria, né lo studio, né la casa, bensì la strada”). Recarsi in un mercatino cheap per vincere un’opera d’arte; trovarsi a bere un tè con uno sconosciuto nel suo salotto/negozio; trovarsi impossibilitati a camminare sul marciapiede a causa di una gigantesca scatola di cartone spuntata da un giorno all’altro; pensare di essere in anticipo/ritardo perché l’orologio pubblico è puntato sull’ora di un paese lontano; farsi fare un ritratto da una fotografa professionista; tentare di prendere un ascensore che non porta da nessuna parte; riconoscersi da piccoli in una foto ricordo di una festa di cui si era persa memoria o mangiare un gelato al prezzo di un gettone: questi gli effetti sul pubblico degli otto interventi artistici, che hanno spostato l’attenzione dal quotidiano allo speciale, sorprendendo per un attimo il pubblico occasionale di passaggio per la strada.

Continua su Tafter Journal


Quali sono le domande fondamentali da porsi per capire il ruolo odierno e quello futuro di un museo di arte contemporanea? Di un’istituzione che, oggi più che mai, deve saper dialogare con il territorio che la ospita e i suoi abitanti, per dare un senso compiuto alla propria esistenza in relazione alla comunità che va interfacciando attraverso la produzione di valori? Perché, superata la dicotomia bello/brutto, è di contenuti valoriali profondamente innestati – o potenzialmente da innestare – in un contesto culturale di cui si deve parlare quando si pensa al museo come centro di produzione. Secondo Giacomo Bazzani, curatore e organizzatore del ciclo di conferenze Non credere alle finzioni al Mac,n di Monsummano Terme gli interrogativi da porre sono semplicemente due: per chi? Perché? Un modo per ricondurre la questione ai suoi minimi comuni denominatori, riportare la discussione al grado zero per poterla meglio analizzare e forse reimpostare, un dirigersi al centro del problema eliminando ogni tipo di sovrastruttura eccedente e fuorviante.

Il tema è affrontato tra marzo e aprile 2011 nell’ambito di sei diversi incontri con altrettanti ospiti provenienti da percorsi professionali differenti e afferenti a musei pubblici e istituzioni private tra le più prestigiose oggi in Europa. I curatori, agendo su livelli e luoghi diversi, contribuiscono al dibattito in base alle singole competenze e al taglio curatoriale adottato, ognuno rappresentativo del proprio particolare contesto e orientamento: dalla grande istituzione della Tate Modern di Londra con Kathy Noble alla realtà no-profit di Berlino uqbar con Marina Sorbello, dall’interesse per percorsi socialmente condivisi di Julia Draganovic ai progetti interdisciplinari di Andrea Lissoni di Hangar Bicocca, dal percorso decostruttivo verso l’istituzione-museo di Barbara Steiner direttrice di GfZK di Lipsia al rapporto tra grande mostra e città di  What, How and for Whom/WHW.

“Inutile dire che il museo novecentesco, così come lo abbiamo conosciuto è ormai privo di significato – spiega Bazzani. Chi conosce l’arte contemporanea sa che il problema più grande che si pongono oggi artisti e curatori non sta nel produrre oggetti ‘belli’, ma nel riuscire a proporre un senso attuale e un significato convincente ai visitatori. In questa ottica è chiaro che il rapporto tra l’istituto e il tessuto sociale non è il fiore all’occhiello del museo ma è la sua stessa ragione di esistere e di rilevanza artistica e sociale. Creare questo legame è rispondere a una grande sfida culturale, ma anche riuscire a far ‘vivere’ realmente oggi un centro di esposizione e produzione artistica”. Il museo in questione è naturalmente un’entità bivalente che si colloca contemporaneamente su un piano astratto, come modello ideale gestionale e organizzativo, e su uno concreto, il caso dello stesso Mac,n, che sta valutando un preciso progetto di rilancio culturale. “Nel definire la futura identità del Mac,n – prosegue Bazzani – abbiamo iniziato considerando la posizione del museo come legame tra una realtà sociale cittadina – complessa, stratificata e talvolta contraddittoria – e un dibattito internazionale sui grandi temi del presente del quale siamo insieme attori e spettatori. In quel punto collocherei la nostra azione e lì individuerei anche le nostre politiche culturali: da una parte sollecitiamo la città ad una risposta ai grandi temi del presente, che certamente non trovano soluzione nel nostro operato, ma dall’altra possiamo restituire una risposta partecipata e corale a sfide che non possono risolversi in risposte individuali. Solitamente, riuscire a impostare correttamente i termini del problema, significa già prospettare una risposta.”

Ma la macro questione che, specialmente in ambito italiano, rischia di vanificare ogni possibile tentativo di attualizzare le strategie emergenti da dibattiti di questo tipo è quella economica. Gli ulteriori tagli alla cultura decisi dal governo per l’anno corrente agli enti locali, che sono per la maggior parte i titolari dei musei pubblici di arte contemporanea, non fanno ben sperare per il futuro di strutture già in difficoltà come il Madre di Napoli, il Mambo di Bologna, il Castello di Rivoli e tante altre. Per questo è indispensabile accompagnare tutte le speculazioni inerenti al tema come organizzazione, promozione, curatela, etc., con delle possibili istruzioni che consentano primariamente di gestire l’emergenza e di intravedere vie d’uscita alle sofferenze strutturali in cui versano i centri d’arte, che non garantiscono più le piattaforme basilari su cui poggiare programmi di sviluppo e di innovazione. “Sono due le riflessioni che si impongono agli operatori culturali – conclude Bazzani – una di carattere socio-culturale, l’altra di carattere più tecnico-operativo. La prima riguarda un cambiamento di fondo nei valori in cui, come società, crediamo: oggi appare legittimo e giusto (socialmente condiviso) che lo Stato finanzi le banche e le imprese private ma non le imprese pubbliche che producono cultura (musei, teatri, orchestre, ecc.). In termini sociologici diremmo che la sfera economica ha inglobato altre sfere sociali (la cultura, la politica, ecc.). Come si reagisce a tale condizione? Se ne può fuggire rivendicando l’assoluta alterità della cultura dal dover produrre denaro, oppure cercare una posizione interlocutoria, giocando nel campo degli attori economici ma rivendicando, se possibile, una differenza nei valori e scendendo dall’alveo delle idee a quello delle pratiche, il “giusto” costo della cultura. Il secondo aspetto, che forse ci riguarda più da vicino, riguarda come affrontare la situazione contingente nel breve periodo. La risposta credo possa venire da una collaborazione nuova tra città, istituzione e artisti che riempia di senso l’arte contemporanea: da una parte abbiamo la necessità di scoprire un significato attuale del fare arte e cultura, dall’altro dobbiamo anche proporre percorsi credibili agli artisti e al loro lavoro, queste due esigenze possono trovare risposta in una nuova dimensione sociale e territoriale dell’arte.”

inclinazioni_programma 2011


10 thoughts on “Museo: quale futuro?

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